19th February 2015
153 Commercial Rd
South Yarra, VIC 3141
I’m a little heartbroken. About a year and a half ago, I was invited to NBHD Neanderthal for what was one of the better brunches, and the best steak sandwich I’ve had for a long time. When I checked back about a year later however, I found that the place had sadly closed. So it felt a bit odd to say the least when I rocked up to Tanked, only to find that it is sitting where NBHD Neanderthal used to be.
Still, as far as things go, Tanked is definitely a worthy successor to the comfortable, masculine space NBHD Neanderthal inhabited (see venue photos here; alternatively, go look at my NBHD Neanderthal post – it hasn’t changed all that much). A brainchild of the noggins behind Hammer and Tong – one of the best brunch places of all time if you ask me – Tanked is located in a bar (go figure) called Less Than Zero, serving up the quirky, internationally influenced food Hammer and Tong has become famous for.
I had shamelessly located my buttocks right next to the kitchen so that I wouldn’t miss a single bit of food, and the first platter to come a-roving was the Organic Padron Peppers ($11). I grabbed two serves of these, and they were very moreish – smoky and dusted with coarse salt – especially with the accompanying dip of Yarra Valley goats curd.
Though the Surf n Turf Fritters ($10, 4pcs) looked off-puttingly burnt, they were anything but, and absolutely delectable. Hidden behind the crisp exterior was a moist center of prawn, beef brisket, and sweet kernels of corn. It was made even more flavoursome by the addition of summery romesco sauce, and creamy Japanese mayo. It was a lovely dish of contrasts and complements.
Equally as lovely was the Avocado Briont Toast ($10). The thick, buttery slice of bread was topped with a spreadable mix of avocado and cream cheese, but it was taken beyond the ordinary with a spicy dukkah and sprigs of baby coriander. The caramelised edges of the toast were especially delicious.
One of the dishes I had most looked forward to trying was the Kimchi Okonomiyaki ($9). And the fat slabs of Japanese pancake were very traditional, complete with all the trimmings of bonito flakes, spring onions, and lashings of Japanese BBQ sauce. Although the taste of kimchi wasn’t overly prominent, the refreshing tanginess and crunch it added was very welcome.
I had been keeping all three eyes out for Wardy’s Crispy Chicken Ribs ($15, 6pcs) all night, so I was extra glad to spy them floating out of the kitchen. Crisp and juicy, these were given an Asian twist by the fish fang sauce, which tasted like a spicy oyster sauce, and the sprinkling of sesame and spring onion.
Whilst I’ve always loved the idea of sliders, sometimes they fall awfully short of what they could’ve been. Whilst I was leery about the amount of coleslaw in the BBQ Brisket Slider ($6ea), my fears turned out to be completely unfounded. Though thin, the pink slices of beef were mouth-wateringly bold, its richness complemented by the thick slice of pickle and crunchy slaw.
Equally good was the Smoked Chicken Slider ($6ea), the tender meat still wafting with smoke from the BBQ, and the Smoked Lamb Shoulder Slider ($6ea), which looked a lot like its chicken counterpart but was fuller and fattier in flavour.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to stay long enough to try any of the other dishes on the menu (though really, I had tried at least two-thirds already), I’ve seen and tasted enough to know that Tanked will be every inch as popular as its bigger brother, Hammer and Tong. Tanked has taken simple bar food and jazzed it up so that it’s worldly and exciting. Though the bar scene really isn’t for me, I’m eager to come back during quieter hours to sample the rest of the food on offer.
Rating: 14/20 – bar food 2.0
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Tanked by Less Than Zero.